Image of a Man

BookImage of a Man

Image of a Man

The Journal of Keith Vaughan

Liverpool English Texts and Studies, 77


January 24th, 2020



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‘I want to know what I am, what I want, what I can do, what is real, what is lovely.’

The post-war British artist Keith Vaughan (1912–77) was not only a supremely accomplished painter; he was an impassioned, eloquent writer. Image of a Man is the first book to provide a comprehensive critical reading of Vaughan’s extraordinary journal, which spans thirty-eight years and sixty-one volumes to form a major literary work and a fascinating document of changing times.

From close textual analysis of the original manuscripts, this book uncovers the attitudes and arguments that shaped and reshaped Vaughan’s identity as a man and as an artist. It reveals a continual process of self-construction through journal-writing, undertaken to navigate the difficulties of conscientious objection, the complications of desire as a gay man, and the challenges of making meaningful art.

By focussing on Vaughan’s journal-writing in the context of its many influences and its centrality to his art practice, Image of a Man offers not only a compelling new critical biography of a significant yet underappreciated artist, but also a sustained argument on the constructed nature of the ‘artist’ persona in early and mid-twentieth-century culture – and the opportunities afforded by journal and diary forms to make such constructions possible.

Author Information

Alex Belsey is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Life-writing Research (CLWR) at King’s College London, researching and writing on diary and journal forms, experimental auto/biography, and autofiction.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Image of a Man: An Introduction9
Notes on the Text31
1 - War and the Objector35
i. Beginning the Journal35
ii. Defending the Body43
iii. Believing in Beauty54
2 - Society and the Observer69
i. Making Contact70
ii. Maintaining Distance78
iii. Looking On94
3 - Autobiography and the Intellectual113
i. An Autobiographical Project114
ii. A Literary Education132
iii. An Autobiographical Project (Reprise)150
4 - Art and the Artist159
i. Search and Struggle160
ii. Success179
iii. Sex and Control186
5 - Self-editorship and ‘Keith Vaughan’217
i. Re-reading the Journal218
ii. Shaping the Story226
iii. Placing the Image242
The Diaristic Impulse and Self-construction: An Afterword251